The Puzzling Voyage to Geraptiku: Part One
Scrap awoke to the gentle swaying of the pirate ship he had hidden aboard. The previous night was a blur to the young Gnorbu. He remembered it had been storming, and he had hidden himself among a group of crates which seemed to be carrying hay. He remembered trying desperately to warm himself among the dry and grassy hay, but he must have fallen asleep in the process.
He was careful not to stir in case there were other Neopets nearby. Scrap was no stranger to stowing himself away among all sorts of vessels in the world of Neopia. Having no proper source of Neopoints meant Scrap could not afford the prices of the Neolodge. He had been scavenging shelter since as far back as he could remember, but typically, he knew where he was headed at least.
He quietly chided himself for falling asleep without securing his bearings beforehand. Now, he was off sailing to who knows where. Not to mention, the ship he had boarded appeared to be a pirate ship of sorts. If he was caught, the captain of the ship would no doubt force him to walk the plank into the murky waters of the ocean.
It was during this thought that a whirring noise close to Scrap’s ear started up, and he looked frantically in the darkness of the cargo hold to see what was making the sound. Squinting in the darkness, he could make out a small, flashing red light which seemed to be bobbing along. It was headed away from him now, but he was sure whatever was leaving had seen him or at least sensed his presence.
Furiously, Scrap pulled himself out of the hay nest he had made and grabbed the small sack he carried with him that contained a change of clothes and a green apple he had found at the base of a tree in Neopia Central before the rain had started. He bolted from the hay and was almost to the door to the cargo hold when it was thrown open. The sudden swinging of the door surprised Scrap so much, he flew back from it and toppled to the ground, banging his elbow on a nearby crate.
“Good job, Rax,” came the voice of a silhouette from the blinding light in the doorway. “Looks like we’ve got a stowaway, after all.”
“Well, what should we do with him, Miss Snitzfritz,” came another voice from somewhere behind the first. “I could go and thumb through the Faerieland Rulebook of Traveling for a chapter on stowaways. Perhaps the index could be of some use or perhaps it’s just in the general sailing chap-“
“That won’t be necessary, Lenny. I know just how to handle stowaways,” the first voice said as the silhouette entered the cargo hold.
Scrap couldn’t see where the silhouetted Neopet had gone until a sudden spark ignited a nearby torch, and a dull light flooded the cargo hold. Scrap saw the owner of the first voice to be that of a female Acara. She wore what was definitely a pirate’s outfit, but her clothing looked as if it had been freshly pressed instead of grimy. She was also decked out in large (and slightly tacky) golden jewelry from the red sash on her head to the sparkly sharp-toed boots she wore on her feet. On her right shoulder sat a tiny robot Petpet, which Scrap recognized by a small, blinking red light attached to the antenna on its head.
“What is yer name, child?” asked the Pirate Acara. Her left eyebrow was raised in a curious way, and she was smiling ferociously.
“Umm... my name is Scrap. Ma’am,” he added at the last moment. Perhaps a tad bit of courtesy could save him from the plank. Then, again maybe not, but it was worth a shot.
“Well, Scrap,” said the Acara, grinning even more ferociously, “it looks as if I have a new deck swabby.”
A throat cleared at the doorway, and the owner of the second voice entered the cabin. A male Lenny appeared at the doorframe, wearing what appeared to be a posh explorer’s ensemble and small, wire-framed spectacles at the end of his beak. In his feathery wingtips, he held a large book, open to a page he was preparing to read from.
“But, Miss Snitzfritz, the rulebook clearly states that any stowaway should-”
“Lenny, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Captain Sam? And forget the rulebook. My ship, my rules. Our new friend Scrap will be swabbing the deck if he wants free room and board on my ship. It’s about time I had a crew again, anyhow.”
The Lenny looked positively violated, as if not following the rulebook was a great injustice. But it seemed he knew better than to argue. Instead, he gave a great sigh and retreated to the upper decks of the pirate ship.
“Don’t mind him, swabby,” Captain Sam said after he left. “He’s just a blathering idiot of a client.” She lifted the small robot Petpet from her shoulder and placed it upon the ground. “Rax, could you take our new swabby to his quarters? I’m thinking the old pirate barracks will suit him just fine. And Scrap, was it? Find yerself a change of clothes there. And meet me on the deck when you’re done. The deck is looking mighty dirty.”
Captain Sam turned and left, leaving the little robot Petpet, staring up at Scrap. He couldn’t believe what had just happened. Not only was he going to be allowed to stay on the ship, but he would also be given a new set of clothing to wear. For someone who had worn the same two outfits for almost a decade, this was a joy. And, he’d have a job, to boot.
Rax the Petpet (which Scrap had determined to be a GX-4 Oscillabot model) led Scrap to his quarters, where he found not one but three sets of new clothes to try on. They were all typical pirate crew wear, but each set came with the same red sash Captain Sam had been wearing on her head. It must be the trademark of the ship, he thought as he tied it around the base of his ears.
And sure enough, when Scrap surfaced to the ship’s deck roughly ten minutes later, he saw a red banner flying atop the main mast where he had expected a skull and crossbones.
“Welcome aboard, swabby,” came the voice of the captain. “Captain Samantha Snitzfritz here. Just call me Captain. And you met my robot Petpet Rax.” The little robot Petpet scurried away from Scrap and climbed up its owner’s arm to sit atop her shoulder. “Well, the swabbing mop is over there by the main cabin,” she said, pointing to the door Scrap just exited. The captain looked up at the sky and seemed to be counting something. When she looked down, she was smiling that ferocious smile again. “Lunch will be served in the kitchens in about forty-five minutes. In the meantime, get to swabbing.”
Captain Sam turned and left, walking upwards towards the steering wheel of the vessel. However, no sooner than she left, the bookworm of a Lenny approached Scrap and extended his right wingtip. His left wing was holding a different book than before.
“I am sorry, Scrap, for our first meeting. I must say you met me by surprise. This whole exploration thing is new to me. So exhilarating.” Upon saying those words, the Lenny simply stared into the sky, his beak curved into the widest of grins. Scrap had been shaking the Lenny’s wing for quite some time before the explorer shook himself from his daydreams and looked at Scrap again. “Ah, yes. So rude of me. My name is Professor Lenny von Grubbentrapp. You can call me Professor Lenny for short.”
Scrap couldn’t shake the feeling that this Professor Lenny had never left the comfort of a laboratory or study. Peering at the new book in the professor’s wing, Scrap saw that it was titled Seafaring Across Neopia.
“Where are we seafaring to?” asked Scrap dully. He hadn’t been acquainted with the details of this voyage yet, and though he was happy to be clothed and have a job, he was awfully curious of the happenings around him.
“Ah, yes,” the professor replied. “We are headed to the very mysterious Mystery Island. To the Lost City of Geraptiku. There, I will uncover the ancient secrets of its people in the deserted tomb of its most ancient of rulers. With Captain Snitzfritz’s aid, of course. And yours if you would like to join. Wait,” he said quickly as he reached into a small bag Scrap had not seen before. From inside its cloth, the professor pulled out the same rulebook he used earlier. “Let’s see if there’s a rule about adding explorers to a journey mid-progress. Just a moment, and I will-”
“Lenny,” called the Captain from the steering wheel. “Leave the swabby alone to do his work! I don’t care if you are a client, you will let my crew finish its business.”
The professor looked frazzled and beaten, and mumbled under his breath briefly before disappearing in the cabin below. Scrap, on the other hand, shrugged and grabbed the nearby mop. He had only been swabbing for what seemed like ten minutes when Captain Sam blew a large whistle and called for lunch.
Starving, Scrap ran downstairs and worked his way to the kitchen where he found the captain wearing a large red apron much like the sash across her forehead.
“Lunch is served,” she said, lowering a plate of what looked like green mashed potatoes in front of an already seated Professor Lenny. The professor ran his tongue over his elongated beak and used his steel fork to scoop small amounts of the food into his mouth. The captain lowered another portion of the food into a waiting plate, which Scrap assumed was for him. He sat and tried to contain himself from scarfing down the meal in one bite, which he was sure would upset the professor.
Captain Sam, on the other hand, didn’t seem as if she cared too much as she dove face first into her plate of mush. She had slurped down the entire entrée in less than two minutes and was licking her lips as he began to talk.
“So swabby, Professor Stick-in-the-mud here was quite right in asking you if you would like to join us on our expedition to Geraptiku. Well, almost right. See, as crew, you do as I say, and I say that you go. Hope you’re up to that.”
Scrap nodded in agreement quickly, for he was certain that if he didn’t, the ferocious grin on the captain’s face meant he would be taking a long walk off a short plank. “What exactly are we searching for anyways?” he asked, gaining more nerve as the trip went on.
“Well, I am glad you asked,” replied the professor quickly, as if this was the height of excitement. Captain Sam merely rolled her eyes as if she was tired of hearing his voice. “You see, the ancient people of Geraptiku held a very dear artifact. Their tribe believed that life was not random. That things didn’t happen just by chance, you see. They held the belief that a certain piece of jewelry guided each person’s life. That each civilization had an ornament which guided its way of life. And they had the mysterious Gold Geraptiku Talisman. That talisman is priceless. Its ability to irrigate crop fields and tame the wildest of beasts made it a valuable treasure for the Geraptiku people. After their most beloved king died, they buried the talisman deep within his tomb to a place even they couldn’t return.”
Professor Lenny lowered his voice to a whisper. “After that day, the people of the tribe could no longer affect their own destinies. Crops dried and withered and died. Beasts ransacked their village and stole their harvest. Within just a few short years, the population of Geraptiku vanished. It is said that the talisman still lies deep within the tomb and that the people of the village died in the attempt to retrieve it again. It is said that their spirits wander the halls of the tomb, searching still for the talisman and scaring off those who dare enter themselves. It is this tomb that we shall venture to and search within.”
Scrap had moved to the edge of his seat without really noticing it. He was staring into the eyes of the professor, hanging on his every word. The professor, however, leaned back in his chair and narrowed his eyes at the food on his plate.
“That is, of course, all nonsense. Ghosts do not exist, and the villagers merely left in search of more fertile lands. However, we will find the talisman, and-”
“HUSH!” said the captain as her ears perked up. Her eyes narrowed as she stared into space, trying to pick up the faintest of sounds. Suddenly, the ship careened, and all three of their plates clattered to the ground, food and all. The captain gained her feet and ran from the kitchens. Scrap regained his bearings from the ship’s turning and chased after her to the deck.
As soon as he neared the door, he felt a tremendous wind which nearly blew him back towards the kitchen. He plowed through and made his way to the deck where the captain was trying to fight back the winds and torrents of a terrible storm.
“Help me grab the wheel,” the captain yelled over the heavy wailing of the winds. Scrap ran towards her and helped steady the ship. “Something’s not right,” she screamed again. “A storm has never come this fast and without warning on the seas. I think we must be near Mystery Island already.”
Sure enough, in the distance Scrap spied a lone island with a volcano shadowed in its skyline. And a moment before he was about to say so to the captain, the entire ship capsized, and Scrap went unconscious.
To be continued...